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What led you to go down your career path? How did you know what subjects you wanted to major in?


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Amy’s Answer

Hello, Amulya.

Regarding your major and possible career path: Don’t ask yourself “What major should I choose?” Instead ask yourself, “What major is right for me?”

STEP 1: Discern for yourself the areas of study that are important to you through the following:

- Pick a major based on your abilities: Abilities are what you are able to do, generally speaking. Understanding what areas you have skills in and which areas could use work is a great way to start the elimination process when choosing a university major. However, don’t discount the fields where you lack ability just yet; you’ll be able to build those up more during your studies - college is a place to learn, after all. (Ex: I am a whiz at mathematical calculations - maybe I’ll study to become an astronaut.)

-Pick a major based on core beliefs/values: Choosing a major based on your core beliefs will normally lead to work that is more rewarding and encouraging. But also remember to give yourself the freedom to discover those values now. University is a time of experimentation and self-discovery, and most people solidify their values during their college years. (Ex: I want to help clean up the oceans! Perhaps I’ll choose an environmental policy major.)

- Pick a major based on interests: Your interests are a fine way of determining which major to choose in college. I mean, if you like doing something, why not get paid for it, right? Just remember that, as with your values we previously mentioned, your interests may change over time. The years at university make current interests more volatile than the years before and after it. (Ex: I love the Renaissance painters - maybe I’ll major in art history.)

- Pick a major based on passions: At first glance, your passions seem just like interest areas, only stronger. But this is quite an understatement. Passions are areas of deep interest, sure, but they also incorporate your values and abilities into something that becomes a burning, lifelong desire. Following your passions, whatever they may be, is one of the best ways to choose a major, and it generally has the least second-guessing later on. However, as with your interests, passions may be defined later on, even after university is over. (Ex: I long to help underprivileged children - I want to major in pediatric nursing.)

STEP 2: Consider the Future.

- Will you still enjoy it years from now?
- Is it employable? (In other words, will you be able to easily and readily find employment in a related field after you earn the degree?)
- Will it be around later in life? (You might have answered that, yes, it is employable, but will it stay that way for decades to come?)
- Will it pay? (Let’s be honest - it does matter.)

STEP 3: Give yourself TIME.

- Even if you are entering university, most schools and their advisors recommend that you wait before declaring a major. In the U.S., it is common to leave the declaration of your intended major until the end of your sophomore year.

STEP 4: Seek Advice/Ask for Help.

- Meet with College Advisors (Who better to help you decide how to choose a major than the college advisors whose main job it is to do so?)
- Book Time with Career Advisors
- Talk to Your Peers
- Talk to Your Parents

STEP 5: Spot Any Disadvantages Before Choosing a Major


- Don’t overspecialize. (For your undergraduate studies, avoid choosing a major which is too specialized. Your career prospects and job outlook would remain all too narrow.)
- How connected is my chosen university? (You want to pick a major in a college that is well-connected to local contacts in your chosen field for that real-world experience.)
- How will I be affected after I finish the program? (Make sure that you understand the costs, the future job market, and the locations you may have to relocate to advance your career.)

Amy recommends the following next steps:

Determine your: Abilities; Core Beliefs; Interests; Passions
Consider the Future of the Major/Career
Give yourself TIME
Seek advice from outside sources
Spot Any Disadvantages Before Choosing a Major

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Frank’s Answer

Amulya,
I'm glad you're asking questions about your career paths, that's how we learn. I believe there are few people who know from childhood what career they want to pursue. I don't think most people though, have a clear view of the career they want when they're in high school. Careers are born from one's personality and the goal is to find the things you're good at and the skills you would enjoy developing. Many people pursue a career solely based on the salary potential and may end up not enjoying their work. It's best to follow the paths you enjoy first and then consider the income level you need.

When I graduated high school I did not have a clear direction for a career. I loved airplanes and would go down to my local airport to watch airplanes take off and land. After high school I did enroll in a local college and pursued an aviation career. I took flight lessons and learned to fly a plane. My poor eyesight prevented me from pursuing a career as a professional pilot as there was no vision correction surgery available back in the 1980s.

After switching to a real estate career and obtaining a real estate license I found I liked the administration side of the business. I ended up working for a large mortgage company eventually becoming a technical writer. I basically grew into the position and enjoyed the job very much. I never knew that I would end up using my writing skills in such a prominent way in a career.

Today I work for a large insurance company managing the hundreds of forms used by our retirement department. I enjoy going to work everyday because I'm using the skills I have and am good at.

When you get an idea of what you enjoy, you can direct your life towards the direction that will bring you the opportunities to develop the skills you enjoy. Even in a workplace environment I've found myself growing and learning about myself and my career direction. Managers can see what skills their employees have and are apt to move people up into positions of more and more responsibility as their skills come to light; that certainly happened to me.

Finding a career is a process of discovery. New career opportunities are continually being created. I encourage you to step out and try something, whether its cooking, business, technology, medical or whatever you enjoy and see what happens. You don't have to know everything about the future just follow the desires of your heart and you'll find doors opening.

One more tip for you: Ask those who know you best (parents, relatives, friends) what skills they see in your life. What career can they see you excelling in? You never know, they may give you lots of clues as to your career direction.

Frank recommends the following next steps:

Go online to find a personality test or take a career test through your high school or college.
Take classes or research information on the career choices that interest you.
Research job opportunities within your career choices and see what skills the positions require.
Don't be afraid to apply for positions that are not directly where you desire to be. You may need to start in a basic position first then move into a higher level position later.
Enjoy the discovery process.

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Gloria’s Answer

This is a tricky question. I had five majors and took 17 years to get my first degree. I would say that if you have something that you are passionate about, start there. Think about a job that interests you and see what a major would be to fill that job. I am an Instructional Designer and anything from Education to Computer Science to English major would be qualified to do the job. I would say that if you start college without knowing your major, that's okay. Focus on the general classes that you need to take. Sometimes taking one of those classes will point you in the direction of a major. I started college as a journalism major but the competitive nature of the major wasn't something that I enjoyed, so I changed majors. Most people I know have changed their majors in college at least once.

A cheaper way to find out what you want to do is volunteer. Volunteer at a variety of organizations and do different tasks for those organizations. You may find that you are computer savvy, or better in a role where you interact with people or teach them how to do things. You can find out what skills you have naturally and what skills you may want to develop.

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Erica’s Answer

Growing up I found Math to be an easy subject. During high school I looked up possible careers that involved Math. Out of all the possibilities, I listed the career choices based on the possible salaries when I came out of undergraduate. I based my Accounting undergraduate degree on the fact that at the time it would provide the largest salary once I graduated. I have since found my niche in Tax.

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JaRod’s Answer

Hello, Amulya.

No one can tell you what major or career is right for you. I started by researching things that I was passionate about. I took into account all of my hobbies and interests also all of my volunteering ventures. After considering all of these things, I found that they all had one common denominator. I had a passion for businesses and how they functioned. I wanted to manage one and that's the career path I chose. Business Admin with a concentration in Management. I found this by simply looking at my life and the things that I enjoyed. Hopefully you can do the same.

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AJ’s Answer

Greetings Amulya T.,

The average student changes their degree at least three times during the course of their undergraduate experience. I was a biology major for one day and ended up pursing business and technology. After my first lecture I knew that a biology degree was not something I was interested in pursuing.
Most colleges and universities offer a "General" pathway for students who are undecided on a major or minor(optional). The first two years of a four year degree are focused on core classes. Certain degree programs require specific core classes-- which is why most schools suggest you decide on a major to avoid having to take a freshmen class during your junior year that you could've taken semesters prior. You want to save yourself time and money. I suggest taking a few career placement and personality tests now, and at the end of each semester to ensure your growth, goals, and actions are aligned with your desires/plans.

AJ recommends the following next steps:

Review degree programs at your desired school
Research the couse requirements and school catalog
Take a personality test to determine the type of traits you posses
Build an education plan that has a great work/life balance.
Research academic or major-based grants

What personality tests would you suggest? Amulya T.

I recently took the Top 5 Clifton Strengths Assessment by Gallop for $19.99. https://www.gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/253868/popular-cliftonstrengths-assessment-products.aspx The High 5 Test is a free option and can be found at here : https://high5test.com/ . I found my current top 5 strengths to insightful. AJ Danielly

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Mike’s Answer

Hello,

Not to be cliché, but I had no idea what I wanted to be for awhile, even years after college. When I applied for college, I think I applied to 10 different colleges and had 10 different majors. I ended up being a Criminal Justice major, half way through college I realized I had no interest in it, I scrambled to add different courses in to help diversify my background. Upon graduation I took the first job I got even though I wasn't thrilled about it. From there I had the mentality that I would walk through every open door that I saw, and do my best at whatever that opportunity was. I tried not to get discouraged if it was a project I wasn't thrilled about, just did a good job and typically that would lead to another opportunity presenting itself. Taking that mindset allowed me to land where I am now, at a top financial services firm in a fairly senior role, and I started as a criminal justice major.

Long way of saying, if you don't know what you want to major in then don't worry about it! Just give your best at whatever it is and it'll all workout one way or another.

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Anthony’s Answer

Information technology is my field. Ive looked at the world and what it consist of and uses daily. I also have a passion for technology so I chose this field. The best thing you can do is go after your passion. With that being said honestly you will never work a day in your life!

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Veronica’s Answer

Hi Amulya,

I honestly did not focus on my career path during my undergraduate. I majored in criminal justice because I thought I wanted to work with lawyers, but after a couple of years that interest was not there anymore.

I actually figured what I wanted to do once I graduated from college and started job searching. After graduating from college, I knew I wanted to work with students and that is when I looked into jobs that focused on higher education. In this case, I feel like it is different for everyone. If you want to become an engineer or work in the business world then there are specific majors that focus on that. If you arent sure yet, I would highly suggest you go in as 'undecided/undeclared' and explore. Become open-minded and take GE's that will help you look into different studies.

Don't feel like you have to figure it out now, you have time to explore your options in college. Also, sometimes the degree you receive during your undergraduate does not equal a career. I have a degree in criminal justice, but I am currently working with high school students.

I hope it helps.


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KUSHITHA’s Answer

Hi Amulya, here's my story. I got married and came here to the USA from India. I had a master's degree in English literature. Once I came here, since I was new it was difficult on what do I do next. I just took a course in computer network and I realized I enjoyed the course and building servers and setting up small home network. So I decided to enroll in Fairliegh Dickinson University to do my MS in Managment Information Systems. I got my first job in KPMG and when I joined I got pulled into to work on audits. I really enjoyed it and rest is history. I am still in audit working at Verizon. So my advise is check around to see what excites you, what makes you want to learn more and then go down that path. You try out different roles . At this time, it's good to be a all rounder than be specialized in one field. Hope that helped and good luck!

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Dee’s Answer

I initially wanted to be a respiratory therapist and studied science and math throughout high school and even started majoring in the medical field when I first started college. Once I got into clinicals I decided the job wasn't for me and took a different path into business. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life but applied in customer service for a technology company, I was looking for stability and though what a great stable career to get into. Here I am almost 24 years later and I love my career. Never thought I would stay here this long but technology is always changing and evolving and keeps me on my toes and keeps the job interesting. I went back to school and got my degree and I'm happy that I work for a company that has provided tuition assistance as I am debt free for my own college career!

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Jamie’s Answer

My major in college was in psychology. I have a bachelors of arts degree with a focus in psychology. I am currently working in Sales Operations. I can not say that I had planned this career but i do believe that the skills i learned in college on how to understand the human mind has helped me with my networking skills and ability to work with multiple work groups. My job function requires me to reach out to different departments every day. I can say that my degree has helped with this but if i had to do it all over again. I would have selected a more specific major. I was unsure of my plan and what i wanted to do while in college. I would have taken more time to think through what i wanted to do before declaring a major. do your research and have a plan before you commit is my best advise.

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Becky’s Answer

I did not choose this career path. I chose a job that had good benefits and a good fit for my skills. I found my career once i joined my organization. Sometimes it happens that way. Sometimes you can find a job that turns into exactly what you are good at.

My suggestion is to find what you're good at and what your skills are. Then find your WHY. Your reason for being here. (I know that's deep.) But find what really brings you joy or what really inspires you.

When you find the intersection of your WHY and your skillset...You have found your dream job. It takes some work but it is so worth it. Most people spend their lives dreading their workweek and living for the weekend. Don't let that be your path. Find something you love and you'll never work a day in your life. Best of luck!

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Jenn’s Answer

I studied Exercise Science and now work in global employee well-being. I knew I wanted to help people get and stay well, from a preventive standpoint. In college, I knew I wanted something that wasn't directly healthcare, so Exercise Science seemed more broad and allowed for a broader scope of possibilities. While I don't teach fitness or use the actual science that I learned, I am glad I selected a broad enough liberal arts degree that allowed me to find my way into global well-being. Definitely look at internships, job shadows, and informational interviews in a wide variety of careers.

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Erica’s Answer

Growing up I found Math to be an easy subject. During high school I looked up possible careers that involved Math. Out of all the possibilities, I listed the career choices based on the possible salaries when I came out of undergraduate. I based my Accounting undergraduate degree on the fact that at the time it would provide the largest salary once I graduated. I have since found my niche in Tax.

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Katelyn’s Answer

For me, I started with business just because a business degree can be utilized in many different fields. I personally think business is perfect for people who are undecided. It gets your feet wet and there are so many different concentrations in business. For me, after taking classes I saw how much interest I had in the hospitality industry. The classes I took where fun and I truly enjoyed the subjects. That caused me to change my path to hospitality management which was apart of my school’s business program. I recommend discovering what interest you and what you could see yourself doing long term And pursuing that for a degree. Once you start taking classes you will certainly be able to tell what you like and do not like!

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Amy’s Answer

Honestly, at the time I just wanted something practical from college. I liked a lot of different things, but I wanted to have a stable job and pay off my loans quickly. At the time I liked computers a lot, and that turned out to be a good decision.

I think the main advice I would have is to "say yes" to a lot of new experiences. Don't worry about fitting in to one group or another, just meet people, do projects, build your network, and have fun. To make your time worthwhile, though, I might suggest always have a curious eye. Notice the small details, not just the feeling in the moment. Ask yourself: why does something work that way? Think: how might I make this better? Wonder: who is this really benefitting?

In the end, maybe a pattern will emerge? Maybe you gravitate towards one subject more than the others. Ask yourself then if that subject is something that can sustain you financially as well as be emotionally rewarding? But, in the end, if you can't decide, pick what's practical for now and think about changing another time.

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Mike’s Answer

Hello,

Not to be cliché, but I had no idea what I wanted to be for awhile, even years after college. When I applied for college, I think I applied to 10 different colleges and had 10 different majors. I ended up being a Criminal Justice major, half way through college I realized I had no interest in it, I scrambled to add different courses in to help diversify my background. Upon graduation I took the first job I got even though I wasn't thrilled about it. From there I had the mentality that I would walk through every open door that I saw, and do my best at whatever that opportunity was. I tried not to get discouraged if it was a project I wasn't thrilled about, just did a good job and typically that would lead to another opportunity presenting itself. Taking that mindset allowed me to land where I am now, at a top financial services firm in a fairly senior role, and I started as a criminal justice major.

Long way of saying, if you don't know what you want to major in then don't worry about it! Just give your best at whatever it is and it'll all workout one way or another.

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Kevin’s Answer

What led me to go down my career path was my passion for anything involving Information Technology. After graduating from High School I didn't know what major to choose or what career path to follow, so I started my major in Liberal Arts and Sciences. In the process of taking classes and working some Work Study jobs at school, I was able to find out what my interests and dislikes were. Once I made up my mind on my career path, I was able to change my major and continued on my way until landing a job in the field of Information Technology. Apart from choosing a career path based on passion, also keep in mind that most jobs now are being replaced by technology or artificial intelligence. You should able to visit websites that can advise on whether the career path you choose will be one of the jobs that can potentially be replaced by technology. A good website to visit is https://willrobotstakemyjob.com/. Hope this helps!

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Jennifer’s Answer

For me, it was a struggle to find the area where I wanted to study then work in for the rest of my life. I was going to choose library science or something in the medical field but then I built computers in my senior year and it was the most fascinating thing I had done to date so then I changed my mind and decided to apply to college for computer science. It helped that I went into the Army right out of high school. It gave me time to build myself up (discipline, self-control, etc) before going to college. But it also gave me an opportunity to ensure that IT is where I wanted to be. That was almost 20 years ago for me and I am still in the IT field. Good luck!

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Jackie’s Answer

Hello!

It's sometimes hard to decide how you want to go about your career, but take into account that it is your life career and you should chose something you are passionate for and what you are skilled to do. For me, I have always carried the charismatic outgoing personality type that makes me a people person and the feeling of doing things for others. With this characteristic, I have also been traveling with my family since I was 2 years old, going around the states and all over the country and experiencing many different cultures throughout my life. Combining these two passions allowed me to come to the idea of working in Hospitality.

My skills and abilities for problem-solving and guest satisfaction, I decided to begin my career working in the restaurant industry as a hostess and a server. Having great communication skills and working in a close co-worker environment allowed me to learn more about working closely with others whether they had been difficult or memorable situations.

Taking hospitality classes was my next step, as the major has different concentrations involving spa management, golf managment, event management, hotel lodging, cruise line management. I decided to keep an open mind and enter myself in the hotel industry because I loved the idea of working in different hotels around the world. Therefore, this major gave me the opportunity to take all sorts of classes to help me decide what I wanted to do such as introduction to food and beverage, wine tasting, cruise line operations, theme park management, introduction to hospitality management, human resources, lodging and operations, hotel sales & marketing, spa customer service/spa managment. All of these classes had a positive impact on my decision to go further into the field.

After the experience after my first job, I was ready to take my hospitality career further buy deciding that I wanted to work in the travel industry, however, because my school was limited on travel opportunities directly, I decided to take a job in a hotel lodging operation where I work as a Front Desk Agent.

Working this job has opened me up to more experiences than I could have imagined whether it's meeting all sorts of different people from around the world, going above and beyond for guest satisfaction, making connections, and making special memories, all of it makes me want to go even further my career in hospitality.

I intend to keep working for this hotel operation because of the enjoyable days I have going to work, and I am hoping to succeed in career in Sales to allow me opportunities to travel

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Veronica’s Answer

First of all, I want to assure you that you don't have to end up in a job directly related to your major. It feels so stressful to decide what you want to major in, without even having really explored that field prior to choosing it. But I'm here to tell you that I was a fashion major in college (after first starting out as a film major), and now work in marketing as a graphic designer.

In the end, what ended up influencing my eventual career path the most was a summer internship I had my junior year of college, while I was already well into my major. So my advice is to really try and get out in the "real world" and try out some jobs that interest you in internship form. Whether they are summer internships, or internships that might count as credit during the school year, they can really give you a feel for what to expect in the workforce, as well as give you more insight into what interests you. The other really valuable thing about internships is that you can use contacts you make there to help you get a job in the future. My summer internship gave me a contact that later led to my first job.

Another bit of advice I have is to take that first year of college to explore different classes that interest you to help you decide what to major in. I changed my major after two years of college, so don't feel like you're necessarily "stuck" in a certain major. It might take you a little extra time to finish, but that's okay too! There's no rule saying you can only be there a certain amount of time. College should be a time of exploration (and fun!).

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James’s Answer

Choosing a major in your freshman year is by no means a final decision. I and several of my friends switched majors afters sophomore year and were able to graduate on time and land jobs before graduating. Talk to your teachers, peers, and professionals in prospective fields about what you're interested in when making your initial decision. The best advice I can offer is to try and get experience in the field that you choose early on in college so you can develop an idea of what a career in that field will be like and confirm that it something that interests you. There are many different resources at colleges that will support you if you decide to change your major.

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Matthew’s Answer

Hello,

I will start by giving you a little background about my career path and journey. Going into college I did not know what I wanted to major in. When deciding I tried to look at what I was good at and most importantly what I enjoyed doing. I enjoyed math and science most so that lead me to engineering but even then I still did not know what I wanted for a career. After entering college as a general engineering major I needed to determine what type of engineering I wanted to pursue. Once again I thought about what I was good at and what was interesting to me. This lead me to Mechanical Engineering, I enjoyed the thought of working on cars, spaceships or anything with moving parts. I thought this was the best path for me and stuck with it. I ended up graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and got a job in the field. After about 4 years of working in a Mechanical Engineering job I had come to the realization that it was not something I truly enjoyed or was interested in or excited about. I started to look for what I was passionate about. After some trial and error I came to the conclusion that I enjoyed Software Engineering much more than what I was doing at the time. I quit my job and started down a new career path. This lead me to my current position as a Software Engineer and has landed me in a career that I truly enjoy and love doing.

With that in mind, it is OK to not know what subjects you want to major in right away. A few pieces of advice I would share that can help you get to what you want for a career are:

-Think about what you enjoy doing and try to find a field that fits, having a career that interests and excites you can help you improve in so many ways

-Try different things, college is a great time to learn a lot and find courses that interest you. Even outside of school, the internet is an endless resource that can help you learn just about anything you want

-Don't be afraid to admit that what you are doing is not for you and change your course to something that is right for you.

-Be confident in yourself that you can learn anything.

-Last but not least, it is never too late to change course

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Gloria’s Answer

This is a tricky question. I had five majors and took 17 years to get my first degree. I would say that if you have something that you are passionate about, start there. Think about a job that interests you and see what a major would be to fill that job. I am an Instructional Designer and anything from Education to Computer Science to English major would be qualified to do the job. I would say that if you start college without knowing your major, that's okay. Focus on the general classes that you need to take. Sometimes taking one of those classes will point you in the direction of a major. I started college as a journalism major but the competitive nature of the major wasn't something that I enjoyed, so I changed majors. Most people I know have changed their majors in college at least once.

A cheaper way to find out what you want to do is volunteer. Volunteer at a variety of organizations and do different tasks for those organizations. You may find that you are computer savvy, or better in a role where you interact with people or teach them how to do things. You can find out what skills you have naturally and what skills you may want to develop.

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